The Diversity of Meningococcal Carriage Across the African Meningitis Belt and the Impact of Vaccination With a Group A Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine.
MenAfriCar consortium None.
BACKGROUND: Study of meningococcal carriage is essential to understanding the epidemiology of Neisseria meningitidis infection. METHODS: Twenty cross-sectional carriage surveys were conducted in 7 countries in the African meningitis belt; 5 surveys were conducted after introduction of a new serogroup A meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenAfriVac). Pharyngeal swab specimens were collected, and Neisseria species were identified by microbiological and molecular techniques. RESULTS: A total of 1687 of 48 490 participants (3.4%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.2%-3.6%) carried meningococci. Carriage was more frequent in individuals aged 5-14 years, relative to those aged 15-29 years (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.41; 95% CI, 1.25-1.60); in males, relative to females (adjusted OR, 1.17; 95% CI, 1.10-1.24); in individuals in rural areas, relative to those in urban areas (adjusted OR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.28-1.63); and in the dry season, relative to the rainy season (adjusted OR, 1.54; 95% CI, 1.37-1.75). Forty-eight percent of isolates had genes encoding disease-associated polysaccharide capsules; genogroup W predominated, and genogroup A was rare. Strain diversity was lower in countries in the center of the meningitis belt than in Senegal or Ethiopia. The prevalence of genogroup A fell from 0.7% to 0.02% in Chad following mass vaccination with MenAfriVac. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of meningococcal carriage in the African meningitis belt is lower than in industrialized countries and is very diverse and dynamic, even in the absence of vaccination.